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Pakistani bombings kill 52, injure 119
As multiple attacks rocked Pakistan over the weekend, the country began the week in mourning and protest, vowing to work together to stop the violence.
Javed Aziz Khan
PESHAWAR – Bombings in Pakistan over the weekend killed an estimated 52 people and injured at least 119 others in Quetta, Peshawar and North Waziristan, officials said July 1.
The attacks came on the same day that UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Pakistani Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad held a joint press conference where they stressed the need for the two countries to bring an end to terrorism.
Series of attacks like 'doomsday'
The violence began June 30 when a car bomb targeting security forces rocked Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), near the Badhaber Police Station on Kohat Road.
"At least 18 people, including a woman and three minors, were killed and 47 were injured in the blast," said Jamil Shah, spokesman for Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), where most of the wounded and dead were shifted. Six more wounded were taken to the Combined Military Hospital as LRH doctors had their hands full.
"Around 40kg of explosives coupled with mortar shells were packed in a car parked on the roadside," Rural Peshawar Superintendent of Police (SP) Shafiullah Khan said.
Security personnel are searching for those who set off the remote-controlled explosive device.
"It was like doomsday," Badhaber resident Imran Khan told Central Asia Online. "People were crying, and bodies and maimed people were lying all over."
Most killed were poor vendors or grocery shoppers at the market, he said, adding that three teenage brothers were among those killed. "The family is in shock," he said.
A few hours later, another remote-controlled bomb killed four soldiers and wounded at least 16, as militants targeted a convoy on Mir Ali Road in Miranshah, North Waziristan, SAMAA reported.
The attack took place near the Qamar check-post, officials said. The wounded were hospitalised, and security forces are searching for the culprits.
The weekend's deadliest attack happened when a suicide bomber June 30 blew himself up at the Abu Talib Imambargah [Shia house of worship] in Hazara Town, Quetta, after worshippers had offered their Maghrib prayers.
"A suicide bomber was stopped by security personnel at which time he detonated explosives around his vest, killing 28 people and wounding 52 others," Quetta Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Mir Zubair Mahmood told Central Asia Online. Two more victims later died at the hospital, according to officials.
"Those killed in the blast included nine women and four children," Mahmood said.
About 8kg of explosives packed with pellets was used in the blast, according to the Quetta Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS). A hand grenade was also recovered from the spot and was later defused.
Police are investigating, Mahmood added.
Pakistan condemns attacks
President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and other officials and organisations condemned the killings and called on the KP and Balochistan governments to provide the best treatment to the wounded.
"We strongly condemned the barbaric attack and demand the government take stern action against those carrying out such attacks," Agha Syed Hamid Ali Shah Mousvi, leader of the Shia Muslim group Millat-e-Jafria, said.
Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) (JUI-F) and Munawar Hassan of Jamat-e-Islami (JI), two religiously oriented political parties, also condemned the attacks.
In Peshawar, KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak called for a discussion to find a solution to terrorism.
"Innocent people are being killed in the terrorist attacks," he said. "Terrorism has proved to be the main hurdle in development of [KP]."
"Not only the sacrifices of the security forces, but those rendered by civilians, will be remembered for a long time," KP Governor Engineer Shaukatullah Khan said. Those responsible will be brought to justice soon, he added.
Protestors call for action
Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch, who was visiting Islamabad at the time, cut his trip short and rushed back to Quetta after the suicide attack.
"There is a planned genocide of the Hazara community by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi [LeJ]," Shireen Mazari, National Assembly member and spokeswoman for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, said. "This is unacceptable."
Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, an Islamic religious and political organisation, and the Hazara Democratic Party called on businesses to remain closed in Quetta July 1 in protest and also announced five days of mourning for the victims of the suicide attack.
Protestors flocked to the streets in Lahore and Islamabad, carrying banners and placards denouncing terrorism. The protestors staged demonstrations outside television stations in Islamabad, while the Amal civil society organisation gathered at Liberty Market in Lahore.
"We want Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry to take suo moto notice of these incidents," Allama Abdul Khaliq Asady, the senior leader of Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, said. "The government, intelligence agencies and police should take steps so such incidents will not happen again."